31 December 2008

after christmas decorating

the day after christmas i start to itch to take down the tree and the christmas decorations. i put them up the day after thanksgiving, so to me, it seems as though they are up forever. yesterday i finally got everything all packed away. after seeing the layers of decorations throughout the holidays, my decorating mantra for january is one word... simple!

i like to use bits and pieces of the real christmas garland here and there. above my mantle in the hearth room i simply hung a evergreen branch on a frame. then tucked in bingo cards, i had in a stash of mine, because it brings happy memories of playing games all winter long.

white candles and some pine cones and that is it for this mantle.

some greenery also ended up on the dining room table centerpiece. a small clock on a cake pedestal makes a grand presence when topped with a glass dome. it is also a nod to new years eve! a few silver ornaments and a glitter star add some sparkle.

the mantel in the living room was filled with garland, stockings and glitz. now it screams simplicity with just a winter scene painting, a little bit of greenery into an urn and one candle.
i love simple decorating and that, at this time of year, my house is free of clutter (most of it anyway)!

one more spot for greenery, in a vase with some tulips. a sure sign that spring is soon to come. i know winter just started....but i am looking forward to when spring is in the air.

next up, clean the closest and the light fixtures that for some reason always get forgotten.

30 December 2008

christmas outings

my boys love going to union station, especially at christmas time. volunteers put up this awesome train exhibit. the detail is amazing. i think it is as much fun for the adults as it is for the children. my dear friend J and her son M joined us on our outing. the boys love to run up and down the grand hall, and it is a good space for them to burn off some energy. at the end of the grand hall there is a huge christmas tree. around it is this train the children can ride on.

union station hooks up to crown center, eating at fritz's is a must. at crown center they had gingerbread displays, with a train, that the boys enjoyed watching.
then on friday we went back to union station, so that the boys (and my husband) could ride the train to grandma's house. it is only a short 36 minute train ride, but it is a fun, inexpensive adventure.
so all in all our christmas week was a really good one. our celebration was spread out over four days and gifts were at a minimum. we still have this week off from school. we have some reading to do, playing with new toys, and taking down the christmas decorations. a nice, easy and very enjoyable week. i hope yours will be the same.

29 December 2008

thank you santa!

we had such a great christmas. here are a couple of photos of the boys, with santa, i forgot to post earlier. such a fun week filled with family, friends and lots of fun things. i'll post more photos later today of other christmas happenings.

24 December 2008

hey santa....

we have been very good!

we hope you will be coming down our chimney tonight.

we have cookies and milk waiting for you.

the children were all nestled and snug in their beds.....

merry christmas to all, and to all a good night!

22 December 2008

christmas decorations '08

i had all intentions of joining in on one of the holiday home tours. but for some reason i just never could get around to getting my photos loaded. better late than never, and still in time for christmas, so grab a cuppa something hot and enjoy my christmas decorating.

i ditched the red again this year and went with more natural decorations. lots of burlap, white, cream, silver and green. it fits my house better than traditional red, green and gold. and i kid you not, it is so calming. i do not feel rushed, crazy busy or hurried this year at all, and i think a lot of it has to do with the calmness of my christmas decorating. again, i used lots of things that i already had. M and i made a paper chain, out of an old dictionary (free from a garage sale), for new garland for the tree. i also just added christmas-y items to decor that i already had out. my favorite is probably the tiny white mittens that i slung over a photo of C when he was a baby. thrifty, easy, calm.....awww...let it snow! enjoy, and if you have any questions about anything please leave me a comment with your email and i will get back with you.

thanks for coming by! i hope you enjoyed my tour. have a happy, & blessed christmas!

21 December 2008

being santas helper

i feel like i have a pretty good grip on staying on top of the toys in our playroom. or should i say room(s) because it seems like we have toys in every room. always before the next rush of birthday or christmas gifts come in, the boys and i sort through what doesn't get played with anymore. we still have way too many toys to play with. it makes me sad to pack up the toys that don't get played with. maybe they rest in the garage sale box until the summer, or sometimes they get put into the donate box and go to charity. i guess i read the velveteen rabbit too many times, because it really does make me sad to send (i can't even call them unwanted) the unplayed and outgrown toys away.

but today i had an idea. it seemed like we had baskets of small toys laying around. some mcdonalds toys, a few books that never get read, leftover favors from birthday parties ect. i collected them all into one big basket and then started sorting the small toys into categories. i went to my stash of cello gift bags and grabbed some fun polka-dot ones. my favorite part of christmas (the gift part that is, i do like christmas for other reasons too) are all the small gifts in my stocking. so i thought it would be fun to package up these small toys into little gift bags. i will donate these this week to a church shelter. these gifts will be waiting for 'santa' to pick up and tuck into a needy child's stocking. and on christmas morning the children and these toys in their new homes will be surprised and happy.

it feels so good to be able to help 'santa' in this way. small gifts, that do add up when you go out to buy them, already packaged up. hopefully making christmas a little more special for those in need. i am not sure where the tears come from that are rolling down my cheeks as i write this. is it because it really does feel good to give, is it that these small toys, all packaged up, look really cute, or is it that i feel guilty that my children are so blessed to have what they have? maybe it is a little bit of everything and maybe i am just happy that these toys will be finding a new home in a few days.

18 December 2008

an afternoon with friends

this is the third year i have hosted a cookie exchange. i always look forward to this little event as i get to spend a couple of hours with dear friends. old friends, new friends and lots of beautifully decorated cookies. it is so fun to see the kind of cookie that everyone brings.

i use an old sled on the kitchen island to hold some snacks. we have wine and mingle and just enjoy. i love to host parties, but i always regret that i never got to chat as much with each guest as i would have liked. i feel so blessed to have such a great group of friends to share a couple of hours with.

thanks for coming, being who you are, and for saying my house should be in a magazine (ooh how i wish!) ;) oh, and i thought of it too late for this years party, but i have a little idea for party favors for next years cookie exchange. i am bummed that i have to wait an entire year to do them, but it gives me and everyone something to look forward to next year! if you host a cookie exchange party, leave me a comment, i would love to hear about it.

17 December 2008

fun at a local children's bookstore

if you live in the kansas city area, i am sure you have heard of The Reading Reptile. it is an independent children's bookstore in brookside, and it is adorable. it is a great mix of creativeness, kid friendly, feeds the soul, bookstore. they have story time, birthday parties, and a million things to look at while you are there. here, the boys found a comfy seat to pose for a photo.

riding the vintage horse is a must for every child.

the walls are covered with murals, and fun things hang from the ceiling. such a colorful, creative space.

i just love looking around the place. the books they have are beautiful and you can find books on every subject. i also love that they have a section for local authors/illustrators. i have purchased several of those types of books for gifts.

the boys love this little hide out. it seems that every time we visit the reading reptile we find something new.

they also have a front window with available toys for the children to play with. they will often be amongst other children and the house cat, who is usually stretched out on a little table in the sun.
please visit this bookstore if you have not. it is a great little gem that we have here in kansas city.

09 December 2008

multi functional furniture

i love furniture. and because i buy inexpensive furniture, i am known to replace it often. take my coffee table for example. i found a really cute table from the 70's. it has some curves to it and looked a little french country to me. i loved it, and loved it even more after i brought it home and painted it black. i scooped it up at a second hand store because i couldn't find what i really wanted. what i really wanted was a bench of some sort. but sporting new black paint, i really liked the little table i found. it was always a smidgen too big for the space though, and that really bothered me. so over the weekend i went to a favorite place of mine called good juju. i found 3 benches to chose from! all at fantastic, low prices. so i decided on this beauty and lugged it home with me.

i love everything about it. the size, the color, the chipped paint, and especially the shelf on the bottom that allows for some toy baskets. this bench fits the space better than the little black table before it. so the black table is now in my basement, either waiting for its debut on craig's list or i will hold on to it for my next sale. AND i love when furniture is multi functional. this little bench is coffee table by day.......
and bunk beds for two silly boys come bedtime. i ran some errands last night and i came home to this. i beamed proudly when i saw this transformation. great things happen around here when the t.v. is off.

M also gathered two trays, one for him and one for his brother, to place their snack on. i couldn't even complain about the unhealthy snack choice. brothers playing together and being creative....i'll take it. my cup runneth over!

06 December 2008

your bags are everywhere!

i have been doing shows for a few years and i thought i would share this tip with you. maybe you are just starting out, or maybe you are looking for a way to take your business to the next level. regardless, this tip is for you. at shows, other vendors will come up to me and say "business must be good, i see your bags everywhere!". or shoppers come up to me and say "i was curious to what everyone was buying. i see your bags everywhere!"

i found these great newsprint bags and use them at all my shows. they really fit with the feel of tray bella AND when my customers carry them around it makes others wonder what's in the bag (free advertising?? i will take it!). i think it has been great for my business. sure, they cost. but i am a big believer that it is all about the packaging and if you sell a great product why would you stuff it in a plastic grocery bag? be proud of what you sell, all the way down to the bag that your product goes home in. take your business up a notch by finding a bag that fits your business style. have fun and good luck!

04 December 2008

3 shows in 3 months

and i am done! whew! three shows in three months was tough for me. but this is the best time of year for selling my trays. i just finished up the past two days at the kappa kappa gamma holiday home tour. (a huge thanks to my mom, sister and husband for helping out with the boys!! i can not thank you enough!) the gift shop was filled with approx. 25 vendors. i saw old friends and met many new ones (hello heather, robin and willa!!)

i have a few special order trays to get delivered and then i will start to enjoy this christmas season with my children. i will still be on the hunt for trays, paper and handles but will not be making any trays until after the first of the year. i love this time with my boys and they love it! let it snow!! oh, and speaking of handles.... i found the most fabulous handles! i can not wait to get them in the mail. i have an idea for a new line of trays....hmm, mmm. i will still create the trays i have in the past, these little beauties will be new for 2009! i can hardly wait to get going on them...but i will because they involve collecting pieces, paper, ect. even though i am taking a break from trays, i will continue to add to my blog. i still have christmas decorations to show, posts about my favorite things and who knows what else. thank you to those that read my blog, are new to my blog, and who came to see me at my recent shows. i am blessed!

27 November 2008

blessings to you today

image from country home

so many things to be thankful for.
may you count your blessings with family and friends today.
happy thanksgiving!

26 November 2008

thanks :: GIVING :: 3

we are blessed that the pantry in our kitchen is full. but i know that this is not the case for everyone. i thought it would be good for my children to also realize that they are blessed in this way.

another way for us to recognize GIVING at thanksGIVING was to donate to a local food pantry. i took the boys to the market and we bought peanut butter, crackers, soup, cereal, baby food, oatmeal and other main stays. then we took it over to a food pantry. M and C both handled a canvas bag of their own. C walked dragging his bag (i wish i would have brought my camera with me!) and i lugged in the 4 extra bags. then we all helped unload our bags onto a cart. then a volunteer took our cart away to stock the shelves. M & i will go back soon and help with stocking the shelves. i am not really sure how much the boys got out of this but we talked about our own blessings all the way home. i hope today, and always, you are able to recognize and count your own blessings.

25 November 2008

THANKS :: giving :: 2

i am THANKful for a house that i can decorate for the holidays. i am THANKful that my house is a home and that it is filled with a loving family. because i am a freak for constant change, just about every year i put a different ribbon on my holiday wreath. this year, in my quest to continue to stay simple, i opted for a burlap ribbon. purchased by the yard and cut into strips. budget conscious, quick, easy, and mimics my simple lifestyle. with most wreaths being hung by a red ribbon, this is also a little bit unexpected, a little bit different, and most of all....me.

24 November 2008

thanks :: GIVING :: 1

when i think of thanksgiving i actually think of it in two words. THANKS and GIVING...obviously. so this week, in honor of the big day on thursday, i thought i would blog about a few of the things i am THANKful for as well as how we are GIVING.

no, i am not THANKful for mcdonalds. i really try to not frequent there, but there are some days that we just end up eating there. i will often cruise through the drive-thru for my large diet dr. pepper with extra ice. on a recent trip through the drive-thru it hit me to pay for the lady behind me. i do this a couple of times a year, but specifically during november. it is a way to do something nice for someone else. it is so unexpected to them and it is fun to see the smile on their face when they find out that their order has already been paid for. i will have to admit that the few times i have done this, the bill for the order behind me has not exceeded $3. when i ask to pay, i never say "how much is the order behind me?" i just tell the cashier that i will also pay for the order behind me. i laugh to myself when i found out how minimal it is. murphy's law tells me that one of this times i decide to pay i am sure i am going to hit the secretary out buying lunch for the entire office! ha! but it really is not about how much you spend, it is about doing something nice, it is about GIVNG. i encourage you to try this, you will not believe how happy it makes your heart by doing something this small.

21 November 2008

fairy door

Linda over at restyled home is giving away a cute fairy door. just leave her a comment on her blog: http://www.restyledhome.blogspot.com/ for your chance to win! because i mentioned it here on my blog, i get two chances to win. i hope i'm a lucky winner!

20 November 2008

just use what you have fall decorating

the calm before the storm. meaning - some simplicity before all the christmas decorations come out. when i decorate my home for fall, i just use what i have. pumpkins, left over from halloween, find a new place to rest among autumn garlands. simple white candles add a visual of warmth to a room and get their height by being placed in urns.

i love the fall colors against our black mantel.

a branch, naturally fallen from a tree, finds a spot on my entry table. we will hang tags on the branch saying what we are thankful for this holiday season.

a basket i had laying around now holds pumpkins and indian corn. again, i love the fall colors against the black basket.

a pedestal bowl, that housed a small haunted house at halloween, now holds a pumpkin. scatter some pine cones on the tray and it easily becomes an image of autumn.

for my dining room table i started with a burlap runner (so cheap at your local fabric store!) then using a tray as a base i just started adding to it. a black cake pedestal gives the pumpkin some height. pewter candle sticks with pillar candles on them nestle into some green garland. orange pumpkins and a stack of cloth napkins complete the display. and off to the side, a stack of charger plates on an easel. so don't spend a bunch of money on seasonal decor. use what you have and go out and collect from your yard.

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